Schemers Pretend to Be Energy Companies To Get Your Cash

6:56 PM, Jan 17, 2014   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Schemers are calling your phones and pretending to represent your energy provider so they can get their hands on your money.

Duke Energy customers have been targeted but now electric cooperatives are being hit too.

The schemers try to steal your money by calling and claiming to be a Duke Energy representative.

READ: Duke Energy Warning Customers of Utility Schemes

They threaten to disconnect your power unless you make an immediate payment through a prepaid debit card.

Davis Montgomery with Duke Energy says there are red-flags in that pitch.

He says Duke Energy will never call a customer and threaten an immediate power shut off if a bill is not paid. Montgomery says Duke Energy employees will also never tell you what form of payment to use.

"These folks are good at what they do, they're professionals-they will give you some very plausible reasons as to why they're calling and why you should pay this right away so it's all going to sound good," said Davis Montgomery, Duke Energy. "But again, there is a red flag in there someplace."

Duke Energy customers are not the only ones targeted.

These crooks are also going after consumers served by the state's electrical cooperatives.

They aren't sticking to phone calls either - these folks are trying to scheme consumers through emails too.

The latest email scheme is from a site claiming to be the energy company "PG&E." 

The email instructs the consumer to click on a link to pay a delinquent bill.

"I think the trick here is that they are not looking for you to pay the bill but they're asking you to click onto a link to verify your account and that link downloads a virus onto your computer and gets your personal information," said Montgomery.

These emails have red flags - a few words are misspelled, a dollar-sign is missing from one of the charges, and the email address does not include the company's name it's claiming to be.

PG&E is a real company, but it does not serve North Carolina.

If you get one of these emails - delete it. If you get one of these calls, do not continue a conversation with the schemer. They'll try to get as much information from you as possible -- and might use it to scheme you again in the future. 

Duke Energy offers the following advice to its customers: 

In reality, Duke Energy never asks or requires customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid electric service disconnection. Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.

Duke Energy customers who have delinquent accounts also receive advance notice prior to electric service disconnection - never just a single notification one hour before disconnection. 

The company urges customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, to hang up and call local police, then Duke Energy using the customer service number on their billing statement, to report the call and check their account balance. 

Duke Energy, The Better Business Bureau, and the North Carolina Attorney General's office are warning consumers about these schemes. 

WFMY News 2

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